As I mentioned in my prior post, food and I haven't always had the healthiest relationship. I've turned to unhealthy eating habits in times of stress, happy times - basically at any point in my life with emotional extremes. I never really looked at food as medicine. I didn't, until recently, realize just how much the food I was eating was affecting my health.
I've been a migraine sufferer since my teens. I started getting them with my first menstrual cycle, and they run in my family - my mom would hole herself up for hours in a dark room with a washcloth over her eyes, and plead for us to be quiet. I had to do the same thing with my own daughter - taking handfuls of ibuprofen, and alternating coffee and water to try to lessen my suffering. I got bad headaches at least twice a month in a good month, and they were increasing in frequency as I entered my late thirties. If you are a migraine sufferer yourself, you know how horrible these headaches are.
One day, a client of ours at the salon knew that I was a migraneur, and suggested that I try a gluten-free lifestyle. She claimed that her headaches had lessened significantly after dropping wheat from her diet. I was pretty desperate at this point in time - my headaches were increasing to once a week, and I had no quality time on the weekends. I was ready to do anything to be pain free.
So, after Christmas, I gave it up. It was hard at first - I'm a carb fiend. I bought cookbooks, started pinning recipes to Pinterest like a madwoman, and cleaned out my pantry. I tackled the confusing world of gluten-free flours, started getting more creative with making vegetables in new ways, and just generally cleaning up my diet. I discovered the simple deliciousness of eating healthy foods, without preservatives and chemicals.
And guys - it worked.
At first, I thought it was just a placebo effect when my period came and went, migraine-free. I thought that maybe I was imagining it. But months went by. No headaches! I was sleeping better, I was less depressed and stressed out, and my energy levels soared. The scary neurological symptoms I was beginning to have - numbness and tingling, blurred vision, tremors and brain fog, disappeared. I felt like a new person.
I decided to test out eating gluten about 4 months into my diet. I indulged in a slice of regular cake, and had pizza the next afternoon for dinner. The day after, I was met with a crushing headache and my gut was tied in knots. It was horrible.
Since then, I've tested out my tolerance on a couple more occasions - most recently this weekend. After enjoying a delectable cinnamon roll made with wheat flour on Saturday morning, I spent Sunday and Monday in excruciating abdominal pain, and with the worst migraine of my life. I.am.done.
I have a strong suspicion that I may be one of the thousands of people in the U.S. who have celiac disease. Autoimmune and endocrinological disorders run in my family, so it wouldn't surprise me. I'd have to go back to eating gluten for long enough to get the testing done to confirm my intolerance. I honestly don't think I can endure that, especially since what I'm doing with my diet is the only known treatment anyway.
Our food supplies have changed drastically in the last 100 years or so - causing wheat allergies and gluten intolerance to spike significantly. The wheat that we are eating now isn't the same wheat that our ancestors ate. It's almost impossible to find wheat or other grains that haven't been genetically tampered with.
So, for me - I'm gluten-free for life. Sure, sometimes I miss carrot cake, and doughnuts, and other goodies that I can no longer have. But it's worth it. Gluten-free isn't right for everyone, but for those of us who may be on the autoimmune disease spectrum, it can be beneficial. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist if you suspect yourself or a family member of having celiac disease, and listen to your body. Be your own advocate for your health, and your body will reward you with a long and healthy life.
Read more about celiac disease here.